Social media can sometimes feel like the “wild wild west,” and cruel comments and reckless posts are simply part of the everyday scrolls.
However, in some cases, courts classify social media posts and comments as “Defamation.”
What should you do if you’ve become a victim of social media defamation?
Fox 5‘s Jeannette Reyes sat down with attorney Deborah Blum to get the law-binding scoop.
What is Defamation?
According to Blum, “Defamation, in general, is a false statement damaging to someone else’s reputation. It has to be false — and getting to false — determining that it’s false — that’s a whole lawsuit generally.”
How do you protect yourself?
Blum encourages people to take photos.
“Right now, people can publish anything, say anything – and there’s not enough recourse,” Blum explained. “If somebody makes a defamatory statement against you online, you absolutely need to take a picture of it.”
What makes a Defamation case tricky?
“With social media, people can delete things,” Blum explained.
“So if somebody posts something about you that’s not true or harmful to your representation then, you immediately need to capture it, because they could delete it very easily,” Blum tells Fox 5.
“You could report it to Facebook, Instagram, but that process takes a long time. You could go the route of hiring an attorney who could send a cease-and-desist letter to the individual that posted it,” she advised.
“It’s just we don’t have an actual in-the-moment cure, and because we live in a time of cancel culture, something can go viral in a matter of minutes. And then literally – your whole life – everything you’ve worked toward building could go out the window.”
Do defamation cases have to prove monetary or tangible damages were caused?
“The only thing you need to prove is that it’s a false statement,” Blum told Fox 5. “You don’t need to have actual monetary damages.”
“Opinion and offensive speech are things that are protected by the First Amendment,” Blum explained, adding, “But we’re taking it to a place where we’re really encroaching upon somebody’s reputation.”
How to Protect Yourself From Being a Victim
“Really do your homework before you write or say something about someone,” Blum said.
“Document, document, document! If you’ve gotten to the point where you believe you’re a victim, document of all of this before it’s all deleted.”